Friday, January 30, 2009

Quick Passage from Genesis in Space and Time

I found a particular passage in Genesis in Space and Time not so much interesting as consistent with some other things I have come across. I'm quoting now:
  • Among contemporary philosophers Martin Heidegger in his later writings suggested a sort of space-time fall. He said that prior to Aristotle, the pre-Socratic Greeks thought in a different way. Then when Aristotle introduced the concept of rationality and logic, there was an epistemological fall. His notion, of course, had no moral overtones at all, but it is intriguing that Heidegger came to realize that philosophy cannot explain reality if it begins with the notion that the world is normal. This the Bible has taught, but the Bible's explanation for the present abnormal world is in a moral Fall by a significant man, a fall which has changed the external flow of history as no epistemological fall could do.
What I find interesting here is not the content of what Heidegger thought, but instead the fact that later in life he came to some realizations that more closely represent Biblical reality than ever before. Sure, it is a completely different type of Fall; a Fall in the realm of knowledge and the ability to know as opposed to a moral Fall, but it is a Fall nonetheless.

No close nexus here, but what happened to Sartre is also somewhat revealing. Sartre spent his life explaining the absurdity of life and the world. He spent a life of total atheistic hedonism writing his perverted worldly philosophy, and rejecting the concept of God. Sure enough, on his death bed (and I unfortunately can't find anything on this, but have heard Ravi Zacharias talk it) Sartre renounced his atheism, and professed a belief in a God. It is highly unlikely Sartre came to belief in the Christian God on his death bed, but the fact that on his last days he came to believe in a God at all is significant.

What I also remember from hearing Zacharias talk about this is that he was so steadfast and absolute in his atheism before that point, that when he proclaimed a belief in God, his mistress thought he had lost his mind.

And, whether or not he requested it or asked for it, on his deathbed, Catholic priests performed an unction on/for Oscar Wilde.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


The meaning of the term "day" as used in Biblical Creation is a source of debate. Some Biblical literalists believe that God literally created the Earth in 7 24-hour blocks of time.

Others take a more liberal approach, and probably the only reasonable approach as we study scripture and Genesis closely.

Sources for this post are Genesis in Space and Time (which is about the flow of Biblical history) and The Beginning of Wisdom (graciously recommended by a good friend).

Francis A. Schaeffer in Genesis in Space and Time says that the term day as related to creation must be held with openness. He uses the King James version of the Bible, and then colloquializes (totally not a word) the language.
  • In Genesis 5:2 we read: "Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created." As it is clear that Adam and Eve were not created simultaneously, day in Genesis 5:2 does not mean a period of 24 hours.
Schaeffer explains that the term day used in Hebrew could denote an era just as it can in English. (e.g., Back in my day). He then goes on to say
  • the simple fact is that day in Hebrew (just as in English) is usedd in three separate senses, to mean: (1) twenty-four hours, (2) the period of light during the twenty-four hours, and (3) an indeterminate period of time.
Finally, Schaeffer makes the point that this is not a thing that can really be debated because there are no clearly defined terms upon which to debate. But it seems self-evident, unless you are gung ho on a literal interpretation of the Bible--which some are--that day in this sense doesn't mean a 24 hour period.

A point made obvious in Leon Kass' The Beginning of Wisdom which I think closes the issue to any debate whatsoever is found by a direct reading of the scripture:
  • And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day. (Gen 1:3-5). (This was on the First Day).
And then...
  • And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from teh night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and says and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights--the greater light to goern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. (This was on the Fourth Day).
So... we had light before we had stars. The Sun is a star. We had light before we had the Sun. On the third day we even had vegetation before we had the Sun. The main point though is that we mark the times and our days in relation to the Sun. If we had a First Day, a Second Day, and a Third Day all before we had the Sun, this would seem to definitively mean that the term day means something other than a 24 hour period.

I realize this is not a major point of curiosity or contention to most people, but this certainly does re-work the way we think about the Creation story altogether, a not insignificant implication in this is the age of the Earth. But New Earthers vs. Old Earthers is another debate for another day.

Hume's Test Failed Itself...

David Hume, a Scottish skeptic from the 18th century, is credited to this day by many atheists and freethinkers as a really smart dude who drove the nails into the coffin of Christianity.

I've read this in D'Souza's book What's So Great About Christianity, and I've also heard Ravi Zacharias talk about this, and I got a laugh both times.

One of David Hume's popular philosophical statements was "If we take in our hand any volume of divinity or school of metaphysics, let us ask these questions
  • Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or reasoning?
  • Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact or existence?

If the answer to both is "no," commit it to the flames for it can be nothing but sophistry and illusion."

He is saying, take a book in your hands and ask if it is being mathematically reasoned through, if it isn't--commit it to the flames. Or, if a statement isn't mathematical or scientific it is sophistry and illusion.

But, Hume's statement is a philosophical test for meaning that fails its own test. His statement does not contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or reasoning, nor does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact or existence.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


This book is as engrossing a read as you will find anywhere on Christianity, theology, etc. Even if Christianity and theology isn't a topic that piques your curiosity, this book is a page turner.

I've linked up to a $3 copy of it on Amazon, and I highly recommend it. Randy Alcorn studied every page of the Bible for exactly what it says, and what is fair and unfair to expect about the Christian heaven.

He talks about issues such as:

Wouldn't Heaven be really boring?
Would there be sports? How would there be a loser?
Where is Heaven?
Will we feel pain in Heaven?
Will there be sex in Heaven?
What will food be like?
Will we be married?
What if a relative isn't there?
Will we have continuity between earthly knowledge and heavenly knowledge or will there be discontinuity?
What will we wear?
Is it actually a place? Like New York City is a place?
Isn't it just a state of mind?

There are far, far more interesting topics and questions than this in the book, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who might want to read the book. One thing the author encourages the reader to do is lose the temporal earthly perspective, and have an eternal perspective. It is a very difficult thing to do until you have read this.

Note: Some of the answers in this book are very surprising...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why Are We Losing?

"This has been one of the weaknesses of evangelical, orthodox Christianity--we have been proud in despising philosophy, and we have been exceedingly proud in despising the intellect."

-Francis A. Schaeffer, He Is There and He Is Not Silent

I Never Understood Animal Rights Folks

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.
  • So God created man in His own image;
  • He created him in the image of God;
  • He created them male and female.
God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on teh earth." God also said, "Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth, and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth--everything having the breath of life in it. I have given every green plant for food." (Gen 1:26-30).
I never read that (or any other biblical passage) and got the impression that the beasts of the Earth merited, in God's eyes, the place of mankind.

I bring this up because I got in an e-mail discussion with a Christian PETA member the other night, a guy I knew from Ann Arbor.

On our side of infinity, we do have more in common with the animals than with God. Both humans and the beasts are finite, and God being infinite, he will remain to Be while we will die an earthly death, and later get on the plus side of infinity (standing outside of time).

But, God obviously thought we were worth more than the beasts because he instilled many things such as virtue, reasoning tools et al. that are uniquely attributable to man and not beast.
That is because we are made in God's image--we are God's image bearers. Therefore, on the personality side of the line, we have more in common with God than with the beasts of the Earth, and are worth far more in His sight. We have souls, can accept Christ's perfect sacrifice as redemption, can carry out the Great Commission, etc. Animals do not have the same kind of soul; they don't have a soul in the image of God.

Animals as far as I can tell are limited, and weren't given what we were. That's why I, myself, never could agree with PETA. I don't see beasts === humans. However, if by animal rights they mean a right for the animals not to suffer, then I am totally on board with that, but many nut job PETA people want HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ANIMALS! That is a perfect contradiction in terms.

Human rights presupposes a human. And animals are not human.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Biblical Reliability

This is a rarity. Two posts in one day. I came across an article in my Apologetics Study Bible that I have to transcribe word for word into this blog. There is so much doubt, cynicism, and skeptical agnosticism based upon the Bible that some of it has to be addressed whenever possible. Some of the primary questions it seems skeptics have are 1) is the Bible reliable? (Is it how it was originally meant to be); and 2) is it a political document? (Did the early Church arbitrarily decide what gospels to include in the New Testament?) The answers are "yes" and "no," and there is plenty of literature out there to sufficiently and authoritatively answer both questions, but for now I want to transcribe this article out of my Study Bible. (**If you are interested in a Bible that answers questions as you read, this bible--linked above--is for you. Interspersed every 2-3 pages is an article by a different theologian or apologist and makes for an addictive read.**)
Has the Bible Been Accurately Copied Down Through the Centuries? by Norman E. Geisler

The Bible is the most accurately transmitted book from the ancient world. No other ancient book has as many, as early, or more accurately copied manuscripts.

Old Testament

Old Testament ("OT") manuscript reliability is based on three factors: their abundance, dating, and accuracy. Most works from antiquity survive on only a handful of manuscripts: only 7 for Plato, 8 for Thucydides, 8 for herodotus, 10 for Caesar's Gallic Wars, and 20 for Tacitus. Only the works of Demosthenes and Homer number into the hundreds. Yet even before 1890 a scholar named Giovanni de Rossi published 731 OT manuscripts. Since that time some 10,000 OT manuscripts were found in the Cairo Geniza, and in 1947 the Dead Sea caves as Qumran produced over 600 OT manuscripts.

Further, the Dead Sea Scrolls, containing at least fragments of all OT books except Esther, all date from before the end of the first century A.D. and some to the third century B.C. The Nash Papyrus is dated between the second century B.C. and the first century A.D.

The manuscripts' accuracy is known from internal and external evidence. (1) It is well known that Jewish scribal reverence for Scripture led to its careful transmission. (2) Examination of duplicate passages (e.g., Pss 14 and 53) show parallel transmission. (3) The early Greek translation of the OT, the Septuagint, substantially agrees with the Hebrew manuscripts. (4) Comparison of the Samaritan Pentateuch with the same biblical books preserved within the Jewish tradition shows soem close similarity. (5) The Dead Sea scrolls provide manuscripts dating a thousand years earlier than most used to establish the Hebrew text.

Comparative studies reveal word-for-word identity in 95 percent of the text. Minor variants consist mostly of slips of the pen or spelling. Only 13 small changes were discovered in the entire Dead Sea Scrolls copy of Isaiah, eight of which were known from other ancient sources. After 1,000 years of copying, there were no changes in meaning and almost no changes in wording!

New Testament

The reliability of the NT is established because the number, date, and accuracy of its manuscripts enable reconstruction of the original text with more precision than any other ancient text. The number of NT manuscripts is overwhelming (almost 5,700 Greek manuscripts) compared with the typical book from antiquity (about 7 to 10 manuscripts; Homer's Iliad has the most at 643 manuscripts). The NT is simply the best textually supported book from the ancient world.

The earliest undisputed NT manuscript is from the John Rylands Papyrus, dated between A.D. 117 and 138. Whole books (e.g., those contained in the Bodmer Papyri) are available from around the year 200. And most of the NT, including all the Gospels, is available in the Chester Beatty Papyri manuscripts, dating to about 250. Noted British manuscript scholar Sir Frederick Kenyon wrote, "The interval then between the dates or original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed." Thus both "the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the NT may be regarded as firmly established." No other ancient book has as small a time gap between composition and earliest manuscript copies as the NT.

Not only are there more and earlier NT manuscripts, but also they were more accurately copied than other ancient texts. The NT scholar and Princeton professor Bruce Metzger made a comparison of the NT with the Iliad of Homer and the Mahabharata of Hinduism. He found the text of the latter to represent only 90 percent of the original (with 10 percent textual corruption), the Iliad to be 95 percent pure, and only half of 1 percent of the NT text to remain in doubt. The Greek scholar A.T. Robertson estimated that NT textual concerns have to do with only a "thousandth part of the entire text," placing the accuracy of the NT text at 99.9 percent--the b est known for any book from the ancient world. Sir Frederick Kenyon noted that "the number of manuscripts of the NT, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the older writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or the other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world."

In summary, the vast number, early dates, and unmatched accuracy of the OT and NT manuscript copies establish the Bible's reliability well beyond that of any other ancient book. Its substantial message has been undiminished through the centuries, and its accuracy on even minor details has been confirmed. Thus the Bible we hold in our hands today is a highly trustworthy copy of the original that came from the pends of the prophets and apostles.


What Happens When You Take God Out of The Equation but Still Attempt to Answer the Tough Questions?

In my opinion, and from what I have read of him, Jean Paul Sartre was as perverted a thinker as Nietzsche ever was--and far more damaging in that he was more subtle and appeared less insane. Sartre was a french philosopher/atheist existentialist (1905-1980) who to his credit attempted to answer life's biggest questions such as origin/meaning/condition/destiny, but was only able to deduce that life was "absurd."

Sartre's philosophy, which can be found his in his more popular books Nausea and Being and Nothingness, was really nothing more than nihilism which led to a belief that life and the universe were "absurd." A pessimistic hedonist, Sartre "philosophized" that there was no order to the universe, no meaning to experience, nothing to life or man, just one big smoldering heap of nothingness and absurdity. I find it hard to believe that such a line of thought can pass as philosophy and get pawned off on university students today.

Although Sartre believed that rationally the universe was "absurd," humans were still under an obligation to "authenticate" oneself. (I'm confused as to why a person is under obligation when life is nothingness...) And, you can "authenticate" yourself by an act of the will. That idea while a little nebulous in its own right is not completely bizarre and devoid of sense until you delve a bit further into what passes as "authenticating" oneself. Essentially, since the universe and EVERYTHING in it is absurd, and has no content or meaning, all attempts to authenticate oneself are completely equal. Therefore, followed to its logical conclusion, there was no right or wrong, good or bad, only "authenticating oneself by an act of the will." So, it wouldn't matter whether you spend every day of your life collecting roadside litter, dedicate yourself to removing landmines from the Earth, helping the elderly, or molesting children, beating the elderly, or engaging in general mayhem and serial murder: all acts are acts of the will and a successful completion of self-authentication.

Isn't it hard to wrap your mind around such thought? How can people of such towering genius come to believe such Godless, insane stuff?

The funniest thing about Sartre was that he was not able to even come close to putting his own philosophy into practice. Sartre dabbled in politics later in his life (which, if all is equal there can be no good or bad politics), and later signed the Algerian Manifesto making himself a moral declaration.

Jean Paul Sartre is further proof that the only philosophy or worldview that can answer life's four toughest questions--origin/meaning/condition/destiny--is Christianity. As Zacharias says, Christianity is the only worldview that can answer all four with coherency and stand up in its own right in doing so. Other philosophies and religion will be able to answer one or two, but will fall apart when attempting to answer all four. People like Sartre take the really really really hard way out when the answers and truth (which is what they are all after) is right there for them, and end up living a life of absurdity themself.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Evil and Unjust Suffering as Evidence of the Non-existence of God.

I had meant to summarize this from RZ's book Beyond Opinion sometime ago, but had forgotten. He gives a couple of forceful arguments countering the atheist line that the presence of evil and unjust suffering is evidence against the existence of God. To be sure unjust suffering is a quandary that that can be tough to handle and understand even for the orthodox Christian, but there are logical arguments from both the existential and intellectual side.

The evidential argument given by atheists for the non-existence of God typically runs
  • there is evil in the world
  • if there were a God, he would have done something about it
  • nothing has been done about it
  • therefore, there is no God
From this there are two approaches the theist can take--and keep in mind the third point by the atheist is hardly self-evident--in refuting such the evidential argument against God.

Approach #1
  • Yes, there is evil in this world
  • If there is evil, there must be good (a problem the atheist has to explain).
  • if there is good and evil, there must be a moral law on which to judge between good and evil
  • if there is a moral law, there must be a moral lawgiver
  • for the theist, this points to God.
This argument, in my opinion, has a much stronger foundation than approach #2 because the atheist is operating from a Christian presupposition without even knowing it. Specifically, that there is antithesis (right and wrong, good and bad) from which to judge, and without the existence of a God there is no sufficient ontological foundation (or starting point) from which to derive evil and non-evil.

However, approach #2 is another good approach and uses the concept of free-will, or a conception of liberty that allows us to do as we wish.
  • there is evil in the world
  • there is also the reality of freedom to choose; and where there is freedom to choose, evil will always be a possibility
  • in fact, concepts of love and goodness are unexplainable unless there is freedom to choose
  • since love is the supreme ethic, its possibility necessitates freedom
  • where there is freedom, there will be the possibility of evil
  • this is precisely the paradigm of creation by God in the Bible
  • Therefore the biblical model of a loving God, who creates for the possibility of the supreme god, may be defended on reasonable and existentially persuasive grounds
Again, I prefer approach #1 to the above argument typically given from atheists because they are starting from Christian presupposition. They could easily argue that they don't need Christianity to have morality, and they are correct that atheists could have the same integrity, and more than a theist; however, they still are unable to find a point aside from God to which explain the existence of good/bad, moral/immoral, benevolence/evil.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

D'Souza Rips Maher and His Offensive, Anti-Intellectual Irreverence

In another blog entry on another blog I wrote this after reading 100 pages of The God Delusion:

After the torment and agony of reading the first one hundred pages of "The God Delusion," you can color me underwhelmed. And I don't just say that because this guy is batting clean-up for the wrong team.

Dawkins naked, baseless assertions and irreverent jabs at Christians are in nearly every instance what I would expect out of a hack like Bill Maher. The only difference being that Dawkins is well-educated and cleverly articulates otherwise thoughtless points where Maher drops an F-bomb, or substitutes humor for anything that could be considered throught-provoking.

Either way, they are both appealing to the lowest common denominator: people of faith - concrete scientific evidence + (insert bigoted joke about Christians) = Christians are stupid, delusional = God is a myth
This evening I found a column by D'Souza just ripping Bill Maher and his feaux-intellectual game. Excellent and quick read...

Bill Maher is a very irritating fellow. Now surely he would say that he irritates people because he is so iconoclastic, shattering entrenched orthodoxies with his rapier wit, but the truth is that Maher is offensive because he has an offensive personality. He seems chronically unable to wipe the smug arrogant smile off his face, which is especially galling because this arrogance is entirely unsubstantiated by intellectual ability.

Even Maher’s humor seems, well, gratuitous and condescending. His is not the wry, gentle wit of Jay Leno or Jerry Seinfeld. Nor does he exhibit the outrageous, side-splitting humor of George Carlin or Richard Pryor. Rather, Maher employs his trademark sneer to poke snide, sarcastic fun at people, usually people who are markedly less sophisticated or culturally established or economically well off than he is.

Full column ripping Maher HERE.

Roe v. Wade Anniversary--Powerful Pro-Life Advertisement

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The God Who Is There--Ch.1 Summary -- "The Line of Despair"

I finished the God Who Is There last night, and as tempted as I was to go on to something else, I decided to read it again because I believe it was this book that largely set a tone for Christian apologetics today. Schaeffer died in '84, and I'm not sure what year the book was written in, but many of the things I read in this book, I hear echoed in the lectures and sermons of Ravi Zacharias. And, to RZ's credit, he says that any and all apologetics starts with Francis Schaeffer and C.S. Lewis.

This book was included in Volume 1 Book 1 of "The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer" and the subtitle for Volume 1 is "A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture." I'm going to summarize the book chapter by chapter, starting today with Chapter One, "The Gulf Is Fixed."
Schaeffer says that the present chasm between the generations has been brought out by a total change in the concept of truth.

Above the "Line of Despair" (which he dates in the U.S. between 1913-1940) everyone in society today would understand, work, and talk from the same presuppositions* which were the Christian's own presuppositions.

The most important and basic presupposition that American society worked from was that there were such things as absolutes (which finds its opposite in "relativism"). They accepted the possibility of an absolute in the area of Being (or knowledge), and in the area of morals. Therefore, because they accepted the possibility of absolutes, though people might have disagreed as to what these were, nevertheless, they could reason together on the classical basis of antithesis**. People above the line of despair (or before 1913-1940) took for granted that if anything was true, its opposite was false. (i.e., A is A, and A is not non-A). But it was later when society went under the line of despair that people began thinking in terms of relativity which leads to a culture and society of "anything goes," or "everything is permitted."

The upshot is that historic Christianity stands on a basis of antithesis (i.e., absolutes), and that without that antithesis historic Christianity is meaningless. And as antithesis dwindled and people did not operate from traditional presuppositions, they became intolerant and irreverent towards the messageo f Christian antithesis (or absolutes). Ultimately, we are left with an apathetic culture that is not sympathetic to the concept of Orthodox Christianity.

The Line of Despair and Expansion

Schaeffer spends most of his time in Chapter One explaining cultural malaise, how it happened, and the way in which it spread.

First, the line of despair spread geographically. It started in Germany, spread outwards throughout the continent, then toward England and later towards the United States. (Schaeffer dates the "line of despair" as being crossed in Europe about 50 years before that of the United States).

Secondly, the line of despair expanded throughout society from the real intellectual to the more educated, down to the workers, reaching the middle class last of all.

Thirdly, it spread across disciplines. In almost chronological fashion it started with the academic discipline of Philosophy; Art; Music; General Culture; Theology.

If Christians try to talk to people as though they were above the line when in reality they are this side of it, we will only beat the air.

Unity and Disunity in Rationalism

The unity in non-Christian thought can be called "rationalism," or "humanism." This is the system whereby men and women, beginning absolutely by themselves, try rationally to build out from themselves, having only Man as their integration point, to find all knowledge, meaning and value.
*Presupposition-- a belief or theory which is accepted before the next step in logic is developed. Such a prior postulate often consciously or unconsciously affects the way a person subsequently reasons.
**Antithesis-- direct opposition of contrast between two things. (As in "joy" which is the antithesis of "sorrow.")

Opinion: Not to be lost in the summary of chapter 1 is Schaeffer's belief that if the Evangelical and Orthodox Christian church had only seen the "line of despair" coming prior to 1913 (which he later explains that date) presuppositional apologetics could have saved the day in the United States. Instead, intelligentsia embraced non-Christian thought as the Orthodox church was unprepared to defend the Christian faith as they hadn't sured up their presuppositional apologetics, and simply took it for granted that people would always operate from the starting assumption of absolutes and not relativism. Once the social intellectual, and moral rebellion occurred it was too late.

The upshot of all this is the public perception that Christianity is not for the "thinking man," and reason and faith are mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, the Church still today doesn't appeal to the intellect to equip the next generation of believers, but only appeals to the emotional senses in worship service etc.

The later generations who suffered were those who were being taught at home by their parents or others above the "line of despair," and went to school and studied with classmates and professors who taught and thought below the "line of despair." Many were ill-equipped to engage their unbelieving or hostile adversaries, and were convinced their Christianity was not for the educated, and as Ravi Zacharias frequently says that the Church has lost an entire generation of believers.

I'll try to summarize Ch. 2 tomorrow "The First Step in the Line of Despair: Philosophy."


I wanted to do a blog post tonight, but I'm far too tired so I'm simply going to transcribe a worthwhile few paragraphs from The God Who Is There.

"But now we can ask another question. If it is so that there are good and sufficient reasons to know that Christianity is true, why doesn't everbody accept the sufficient answers?

We must realize that Christianity is the easiest religion in the world, because it is the only religion in which God the Father and Christ and the Holy Spirit do everything. God is the Creator; we have nothing to do with our existence, or existence of other things. We can shape other things, but we cannot change the fact of existence. We do nothing for our salvation because Christ did it all. We do not have to do anything. In every other religion we have to do something--everything from burning a joss stick to sacrificing our firstborn child to dropping a coin in the collection plate--the whole spectrum. But with Christianity we do not do anything; God as done it all: He has created us and He has sent His Son; His Son died and because the Son is infinite, therefore He bears our total guilt. We do not need to bear our guilt, nor do we even have to merit the merit of Christ. He does it all. So in one way it is the easiest religion in the world.

But now we can turn that over because it is the hardest religion in the world for the same reason. The heart of the rebellion of Satan and man was the desire to be autonomous; and accepting the Christian faith robs us not of our existence, not of our worth (it gives us our worth), but it robs us completely of being autonomous. We did not make ourselves, we are not a product of chance, we are none of these things; we stand there before a Creator plus nothing, we stand before the Savior plus nothing--it is a complete denial of being autonomous. Whether it is conscious or unconscious (and in the most brilliant people it is occasionally conscious), when they see the sufficiency of the answers on their own level, they suddenly are up against their innermost humanness--not humanness as they were created to be human, but human in the bad sense since the Fall. That is the reason that people do not accept the sufficient answers and why they are counted by God as disobedient and guilty when they do not bow."


I have read about this work of "art" somewhere else, but I read about it again tonight in a book by Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There.

Schaeffer lays out the degradation of thought, culture, and life in general by showing how western culture crossed a line: "the line of despair" into which many "great" modern thinkers and artists gave up on finding a coherent worldview to explain life, and came up with some of the most nonsensical, outlandish, and profane ways to explain life and the world.

This is all kind of vague until you consider the philosophy of Nietzche or Sartre, and there you see it exactly. Profound men of genius who spend their intellect coming up with philosophies of "nothingness," and popularizing the idea (which nobody could ever possibly support) that "God is Dead." (Go into the Barnes & Noble Philosophy section and you'll find a book by Jean Paul-Sartre that is around 600 pages entitled "Being andNothingness." How do you spend 600 pages talking about "nothing"?)

Anyway, Schaeffer was writing about what passes as "art" today, and then talked about Marcel Duchamp. And now, I'm quoting the book
  • His last work, which no one knew existed, came to light at his death. it is now in the Duchamp collection in the Philadelphia Musem of Art. One must look through a small peephole in an old Spanish door to see it. And it is indeed both pornographic and totally absurd. Why is this placed in the staid Philadelphia Museum of Art by the staid directors? Because it is "Art," and so the message is passed on to the population!
Schaeffer writes about once we passed "the line of despair" (1935 in the U.S., 1890 in Europe) everything which was once great--including art--basically went down the toilet. And we are left with things such as "Piss C*****" (which got NEA funding!).

Opiates and Masses

Dinesh D'Souza in his book What's So Great About Christianity put a pretty big dagger through the idea that religion is an emotional crutch for people who can't otherwise make sense of their difficult life or struggle (i.e., "religion is the opiate of the masses").

I'm not quoting because I don't have the book nearby but he said along the lines of

  • If I were going to create a religion or belief system in order to make me feel good about myself, and about life in general, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made up something that has the most demanding level of obedience and behavior found in any religion or worldview.
  • I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made something up with a consequence for rejection of God that includes the idea of eternality in a place where I am totally separated from God. That's not very relaxing to me. Fire and brimstone is rather unsettling actually.
He went on and on, about this and the rest of it escapes me, but he then went on and turned the tables saying atheists and secular humanists are the ones to whom the phrase "opiate of the masses" applies.
  • If you want to live a life where everything is permitted, and nothing is condemned, and there is no divine retribution, and you get to avoid ever having a guilty conscious, then try atheism. Atheism is a true opiate.
Dinesh D'Souza wrote probably one of the clearest books on Christianity and Christian apologetics that you can find. Excellent read.

"Goodness", Briefly

I'm currently putting some serious thought into my feaux-essay on the erroneous concept of "human goodness" being that which earns us eternal life in Heaven, and it is taking some time because I'm trying to lay it out real neat like. But... here is a quick thought...

It is gratuitous to believe that being "good" will be enough to earn us redemption. We could easily spend 40 years being totally "good" after spending 40 years of being totally "bad," and it might seem to us to be atonement or redemption.

But, really?

Shouldn't we be "good" anyway? If it is something that we should be doing anyway, could it really be redemption?

"Good" People

I am going to (as I have started it) write a substantial post on the topic of "good" people, but I don't currently have time to finish it.

However, here are a few paragraphs from Ravi Zacharias' latest book "Beyond Opinion."

This part of the book was no doubt written in a Christian Apologetics book because of the widely held but fallacious belief that "good" people (as we understand "good") go to Heaven, and all that is required to go to Heaven is being a "good" person.

What Makes You Think You Are Good?

This is a very difficult and almost painful thing to say, but the simple truth is that there are no good people. I know that we often think of ourselves as being good people, especially when we compare ourselves to other people whom we do not like. Someone came to Jesus once and said, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 8:18). What he was saying was, "You're a good person. You're obviously going to heaven. What must I do? Tell me, good teacher, what are the good things that I must do so I can go too? How do I attain eternal life?" Jesus looked at him and said, "Why do you call me good?" And then he added, "No one is good but God alone." Think about this: if you have to be good to go to heaven and only God is good, who is going? God and . . . no one else. In other words, Jesus is saying "Your application to join the trinity has been reused."

Now, sometimes we find this type of statement offensive, but if you are reading this and you really believe that you're perfect, there's only one solution to that predicament: you need to get married. If you are married, then you need to start listening! We need to be honest with ourselves. We may try to be good, but we know that we are who Jesus said we are: sinners.

This isn't a hard concept to grasp as soon as you realize that the standard is God, and only God is good, and thus we cannot be good because we are sinful.

And the words came from Jesus. This isn't man-made doctrine, this is Christ-given truth. We can't rely on believing that we are "good," and expect to walk through the Pearlie Gates.

Unshakable Faith...

I'm reading What's So Great About Christianity right now, and Dinesh D'Souza presents some very amusing anecdotes about the fundamental dogmatism of scientists in their materialist and naturalist approach.
  • Biologist Franklin Harold in The Way of the Cell: Molecules, Organisms, and the Order of Life explains that evolution presumes the existence of fully formed cells with the power to replicate themselves. And explains the origin of the cell with: "Life arose here on earth from inanimate matter, by some kind of evolutionary process."
Not exactly the explanation one expects after reading Dawkins. But the next is far better and much funnier.
  • Francis crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA posits an opposing, and rather unique theory: "Space aliens must have brought life to Earth from another planet." This theory can be found in Crick's book Life Itself.
Look at the lengths people will go to to avoid the concept of a creator God! It's rich, and provides great entertainment value; although, it may not be the best for their spiritual eternity. How would you like to explain to God that you doubled down on the "Space Alien-Human Germination" theory (that you invented no less)instead of giving the Bible a fair chance. Wow!
  • With respect to the understanding of the human conscience, Nicholas Humphrey without shame proclaims, "[o]ur starting assumption as scientists ought to be that on some level consciousness has to be an illusion."
Spectacular. The human consciousness is not real. Where does that leave unconsciousness? Really unreal?

More to come later, there is tons of fodder that D'Souza gives in this excellent chapter in his book.

Origins of Ethics.

For the theist, and perhaps particularly moreso for the Christian theist, the roots of morality are a rather simple matter: we are made in God's image, and moral intuition and character are etched or instilled into our very essence. In other words, we are the moral agents of God. While we cannot attain the moral perfection of the sinless Jesus Christ, we can be well aware when we are violating the moral purity of God's character. Even if we are not aware of it this is so, how many of us have a "guilty conscience" over something there would be absolutely no rational materialist reason to feel guilty over (i.e., pocketing the extra dollar the cashier gave us; or, not stopping to help the lady change her flat tire in the rain)? For the theist, the reason we feel this way is obvious, we have violated God's perfect moral character. For the atheist, why would they feel a guilty conscience?

While an atheist could be a good and even far better person than a theist, in that they can know the moral law, the atheists have a very difficult time in explaining where the moral law comes from. A matter of knowing (epistemology) is as open and obvious to the atheist as to the theist, but the atheists miserably fail in explaining where the morals come from in the first place (ontology), and in denying the existence in God, the atheist answer to their ontological conundrum are hocus pocus on one hand, and abra cadabra on the other. That is, they either think morality is just there, and that is all there is to it, or somehow we have accumulated moral wisdom over centuries. But still, neither answer provides an adequate answer to the question of origination.

If you spend some time and attempt to conjure up a moral beginning for civilization, a case for moral autonomy, and a justification for human worth, you rack your brain and ultimately come up with the existence of a creator God (i.e., Jefferson, Declaration of Independence).

Briefly, the existence of ethics and a moral center is far better explained, and much less stretched in explanation by the presupposition of a moral God, as opposed to the explanation of an amoral philosophy which posits that human beings became moral characters essentially out of nothing.

This is very brief and to be fair, I didn't do justice to either side's argument (especially the atheist's side), but even if I were to summarize all the accumulative positions of various atheist moralizers, it just wouldn't make very much sense. It amounts to a bunch of educated guys just starting with the incredulous position of no God, instead of admitting that the theistic explanation is much more simple, and coming up with some really whack ideas about the origin of morality bestowed by nothing. Adversaries could argue that theists are starting from the credulous position of a God, but that doesn't refute the point that morality is easily explained by the existence of a moral God as opposed to an amoral nothingness.

A more complete argument from the atheist position is found here, in the essay with a bothersome title "Atheism, Christian Theism, and Rape."


The word apologetics comes from the word apologia ("in defense of"). Generally, and perhaps generically speaking, Christian apologetics as a discipline focuses on presenting a rational basis for the Christian faith by showing that reason and faith are not mutually exclusive, defending the faith against objections, and showing the unrivaled coherency of the Christian worldview.

The first Christian apologist, Paul of Tarsus told the early Christian church to "...always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have..." (1 Pet 3:15)

This blog will be an attempt to do just that, and dedicated to Christian apologetics, theology, and other such material topically related.

At times I will put down my own thoughts, but more often I will probably summarize significant things I have discovered, or find interesting while studying apologetics. There won't be rhyme, reason, or pattern as to what sub-categories within apologetics I am going to study and write about; it will probably just flow with what I am reading about at the time.

This is an expansive, complex, and controversial discipline with many different approaches, perspectives, and opinions as to its proper aim and function. This will be a learning experience but as a passion of mine, I aim to learn all I can about Christian apologetics, and hopefully this blog will help that happen.